Should Australians have a better idea of what policy costs them?

Senator believes Australians should have a better idea of the true cost of policy.

Should Australians have a better idea of what policy costs them?

Ever wondered how much a certain policy costs you? Well, Senator Leyonhjelm thinks politicians should start explaining themselves in per capita terms, to give you a better idea of the personal cost of legislation.

Malcolm Turnbull is trying to get his ABCC bill through the Senate and, as a result, is having to give concessions to crossbenchers in order to curry their favour.

Senator David Leyonhjelm has won an interesting concession, which because it concerns transparency of government, is one from which all Australians should benefit.

It’s related to how ‘raw numbers’ are presented to the public. A number is referred to as ‘raw’ if there’s nothing to measure it against. Basically, they mean very little.

Senator Leyonhjelm wants next year’s budget to include more per capita numbers “as far as is practically possible”, to give Australians an idea of the personal cost of legislation.

Some examples of raw numbers versus per capita numbers are:

  • Stopping the boats

  • Submarines program

    • Raw numbers: $50 billion over 15 years

    • Per capita numbers: $140 per person, per year (subject to population growth and inflation)

  • Marriage equality plebiscite

    • Raw numbers: $160 million

    • Per capita numbers: $6.60 per person


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29th Nov 2016
Costs of legislation? I thought that big business wrote legislation and governments passed it. Not a lot of cost in that.
The issues discussed here are more in the nature id 'waste' than anything else. The problem with all governments is that spending frugally is not in their DNA. If you run out of money you just levy more taxes. No worries!
29th Nov 2016
No I don't see the point. Another stupid idea but that lunatic Leyonhyelm
29th Nov 2016
I want my $6.60 (RAW) Marriage Equality Money back :- It'll be twice as much as the Insult Handed us Old Pensioner at the Last attempt at Peeing us off !!:-( :-(
29th Nov 2016
Forecasts and estimates are just that. Dumbing down could be done when trying to sell the idea. I cannot see what Dumbing them down on a yearly basis would achieve.

29th Nov 2016
Indeed - too many are fixated on the idea that a 'budget' is the real deal, when it is only what you describe - forecasts and estimates - and thus its real political power is only evident AFTER the budget period has expired and we can look at the real figures.
4th Dec 2016
Figures can be manipulated, and are misleading at best. An example is the claim that the changed assets test will save $x.x billion by reducing the number of full pensioners and the amount many part pensioners collect. Now that might be true in 2017, and perhaps savings will continue for a short time, but over time, the cost of pensions is likely to rise as retirees come to understand that there is no benefit in saving if saving puts you between the new and the old cut-off levels, because you end up getting less income and having to drain your savings anyway. So over time, the number of full pensioners may well increase. But there will be no numbers to demonstrate that fact because nobody is able to predict accurately how much would have been paid in pensions in, say 2020, if the assets test hadn't changed.

We can theorize, based on the assumption that all that's changed is the thresholds. But nobody can assess the likely change in human behaviour and we can never accurately measure the cost of behaviour changes in response to changed policy.

We may be able to cost some policies - like a marriage equality plebiscite, for example. But we can't accurately cost the consequences of legalizing gay marriage because we don't know how many might claim pensions at the married rate who otherwise would have claimed at the single rate; how many same-sex couples will marry and later divorce, putting strain on the legal system; how many same-sex couples will seek to adopt or access IVF treatment who would not have if not allowed to wed... on and on it goes. There simply isn't any accurate way to cost policy.. And that's why when people say the LNP are better economic managers, they overlook the carried forward cost impact of policies the LNP passed that maybe seemed like a good idea at the time - but change human behaviour and attitude in ways that result in unmeasurable changes in policy costs.
Waiting to retire at 70
29th Nov 2016
What I'd like to see is the per capita cost of government at local, state and federal levels.

Broken down into cost of

1. Politicans. Not just their salaries, but travel cost, electoral allowances, 'study leave', living allowances and their on going perks and OVER generous pensions), why does their employer, you and me, have to contribute 18% of their salary to their super when they have frozen our employers' contributions to 9.5% until 2020,

2. Staff costs, office accommodation, office equipment costs, electoral offices, etc. etc. etc.

Then I'd like to see the electors set KPI's for them to achieve. Failure to do so, in year 1, will see a withdrawal of some of their salary/perks/pensions. Failure to achieve them over 3 years should give the electorate the opportunity to "recall" them and put someone else in their place (as per California). Working for us will then become their focus not the crappy naval gazing of Section 18c or Greyhounds or attendance at Local Government Conferences.

Don't see any of them working until they can donate their organs do you?
29th Nov 2016

"That $505.5 million represents a significant chunk of the federal budget.

More than enough to fund the new additions to the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme ($375 million in 2015-16); and more than the proposed saving from removing “double dipping” on paid parental leave in 2016-17 ($474 million.)

It works out at $2.24 million per elected representative. When you consider their base pay is $195,000 (more for ministers/shadow ministers), it suggests around 80% of MPs’ costs are non-salary."

29th Nov 2016
The fly in the ointment is the "get-out" clause - “as far as is practically possible”. You can bet parts of your anatomy that anything that is anyway contentious will fall into that category. Has Senator Leyonhjelm been conned?
29th Nov 2016
It's worth $6-60 to get the gay lobby to shut up.....

I'd like to see an accounting AFTER the policy event (new term there) that shows how, when, where and why 'targets' in costing etc were not met or were over-run. We had the fiasco of the Collins Class submarines and the lack of coherent communication between the submarine 'corporation' and the Swedish designers over such simple things as hull welds - which many then attempted to lay at the feet of the Australian workers and then use this as a justification for 'off-shoring' the next lot as much as possible.

All BS.

I prefer my governments and their created QANGOs to be scrupulously honest and over-burdened with integrity - and I like to see precisely where the dollars are going, especially when they are going to fund a nice little earner for some failed political mate in said QANGOs, when the job could equally be done by the appropriate government department.
30th Nov 2016
Damned if I get the submarines TREBOR.

Submarines would mean some sort of engagements in say the South China Sea or Pacific countries.

Now during my stint in the Army we were lectured on the WW11 experience in Australia and the security of long supply lines making any invasion difficult. Although the fear of losing the entire North was very real apparently.

Now we have a government who has sold our electricity grids, ports and strategic rural properties to Chinese Corporations. Those strategic properties may be staffed with Chinese nationals on 457 visas.

How on Earth submarines are going to help is beyond my ability to reason.
29th Nov 2016
Its not Legislation anymore ...Its Instilling the Will of the Elitist's on the Serfs !! :-) :-)
29th Nov 2016
Been that way for decades - ever since unscrupulous 'government' here discovered (anew) that nobody could mount any meaningful defence (short of open revolt and revolution) against their carefully planned removal of rights and civil liberties.

I've covered this in an assertation (not a dissertation for a degree, but a comment on my own website) under the title - "Created Criminals".... and it incorporates such frivolities as the lowest PCA in the world, our 'domestic (etc) violence' violence against the community by the State, the 'gun laws', and countless other things, all of which abrogate the fundamental Rule Of Law and create opportunity for the State to label anyone a 'criminal' at whim, thus removing from him/her any social power.

Governments of both colour here are equally responsible for this rape of rights and liberties = despotism - and that is why I fairly label them The Government Of Two Parties.
29th Nov 2016
As you know I'm a man of few words !! I try to say in a Sentence what others, write a Heavy Novel about :-(
PS.. :-)
29th Nov 2016
Yeah - but I write novels and bios and stuff...... got a few out there... it becomes a habit, and I know I get a bit complex and long-winded at times....
29th Nov 2016
I wasn't referring to you personally :-)
I think I meant Lib excuse makers :-) :-)
29th Nov 2016
Raw numbers by themselves mean very little.Its just a cost without taking into account how effective,efficient or value provided by the cost.So a lot of it is mental interpretation of value.Based purely on the examples given,the submarine deal is a stinker whereas the We have marriage equality but we want more expenditure is probably worth $6 to resolve
29th Nov 2016
And Orders from Above !:-(
30th Nov 2016
Answer simple...if there was no Senate, there would be no fiscal overuse.
Just let governments govern and if they fail our expectations after three years then chuckem out!
It should be about the bottom line being in the black and all policy centered from that fundamental! ....and surely, we can then progress.